Tag Archives: Poetry

Quotes Worth Repeating: “The Light Is Everything”

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“The light is everything” is the last line of “The Ponds” by Mary Oliver, who is one of my favorite poets of all time. a1ed9b133e3f0d78cc15fecea3bd8b36 In “The Ponds” Oliver encourages herself and us to look past the imperfections of life and focus on the beauty that exists. Here is the whole poem:

The Ponds by Mary Oliver

Every year the lilies are so perfect I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding the black, mid-summer ponds. Nobody could count all of them—

the muskrats swimming among the pads and the grasses can reach out their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that rife and wild. But what in this world is perfect?

I bend closer and see how this one is clearly lopsided— and that one wears an orange blight— and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away— and that one is a slumped purse full of its own unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world. I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery. I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing— that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.

Mary Oliver

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New Life, Empowerment and Dropping Keys

This post if part of the March synchroblog. This month’s synchroblog theme is New Life. I’m late to the party – the March synchroblog actually happened last Wednesday but my youngest son was home from college during his spring break and I was busy enjoying my time with him.

 

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Dropping Keys by Hafiz

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

 

My one word theme for 2014 is “empowerment” and the idea isn’t primarily about my own empowerment but the idea of helping to empower others. It’s so easy to spend our energy keeping others small and caged so we can feel more comfortable; but I believe cages stifle creativity and ingenuity and end up robbing our world of ideas and innovations that need to be born in order for us to continue to progress and move forward. So, I’m trying to focus on being the sage who is dropping keys for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners locked up in cages rather than the small woman who is building those cages.

I see dropping keys as helping others consider possibilities that may have previously seemed out of reach, by connecting people to others and to resources that might be helpful, by taking the time to build up others who are life-givers, by spreading stories that seem to be changing the world into a better place, by encouraging those who still have work to do but might be tired or afraid or discouraged, by being willing to share my own “know how” about anything I do well with anyone who wants or needs it.

My hope is that by dropping keys someone will experience new life and in turn become a life-giver.

The inspiration came from the beautiful poem “Dropping Keys” written by Hafiz, a poet from the 14th century along with this thought from Chris Guillebeau:

“Think about the times when someone has really helped you think or live differently. It was like they placed a key on the ground in front of you; you picked it up and unlocked a cage. You had to open the cage yourself, of course, but it was a lot easier with a key.”

What keys do you hold that could set someone free and give them new life?

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I hope you will check out the other posts about New Life:

Michael Donahoe – New Life
K.W. Leslie – Sin Kills; God Brings New Life
Carol Kuniholm – New Life. Mystery Fruit.
Jeremy Myers – I Get Depressed On Facebook
Glenn Hager – A Personal Resurrection Story
Loveday Anyim – Spring Forth – Ideas That Speak New Life
Loveday Anyim – Inspired By Spring To Create A New Life
Sarah Quezada – Post Winter Delight
Edwin Aldrich – Finding New Life In Our New Home
Doreen A. Mannion – Each Day A New Decision: Choose Life
kathy escobar – new life through nonviolent communication
Anita Coleman New Life, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Eternal Living
Sonja Andrews Persephone
Mallory Pickering New Life Masterpiece Theater Style
Liz Dyer New Life, Empowerment and Dropping Keys

Quotes Worth Repeating: Rave On!

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I absolutely love the poet Mary Oliver.  The quote “And I say to my heart: Rave On” is the final line of her poem “A Pretty Song” in which she is talking about the great love she has for someone she has lost to death.  The line is like a “cheer for love”, an admonishment to love well, to love extravagantly, to love radically, to love without restraint … because that is the way love should act and live and be…otherwise it may not pass muster as love.  And we need to be cheered and encouraged because it takes guts and courage and gumption to let our hearts rave on with love….but I think it is worth it and so do many others and so we do…we love with abandon, we leap off the edge, we take a risk, we fall and tumble, we say to our hearts: rave on!

P.S. Here is the complete poem “A Pretty Song” by Mary Oliver

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.

Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.

And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song,
And I say to my heart: rave on.

Poetry I Love

A friend of mine, Adele Sakler, has been writing a lot of poetry and posting it on her blog, Existential Punk, and it has me thinking about some of the poetry I love…so I thought I’d share one of my favorites here.  (Be sure and check out Adele’s poetry too – she has some good stuff. )

Thread by Catherine Lucy Czerkawska

 If I love you

Your life instantly becomes

More fragile than my own,

Your body more frail

Each cough or minor pain

A symptom of some dread

Disease or other.

 

Death is on every road

Or in every other car

Some nights in my skin

Flutters in apprehension

And I am so threatened that

Caring translates itself

Inside my head to

Stone cold anger.

 

Because I am unsufficient

Tormented by the frailty

Of you whom I love.

Selfish I

Find you

Necessary for my own definition

Your life is a single thread

It snaps

I wither.

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

I wrote a little poetry inspired by “How Not To Speak Of God” by Pete Rollins.  I hope the poem peaks your interest enough to make you get the book and read it.

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We have our divine explanations,

To explain our personal revelations,

Which reveal our very spiritual foundations,

That can get us out of all kinds of situations.

 

We simply love our theological musings,

That provide us with the perfect solutions,

In order that we may tie everything up nice and neat,

With our final resolutions.

 

We adore our idolatrous clarifications,

And really enjoy pondering our philosophical representations,

While we bow down before our conceptual creations,

And worship what we conjure up in our holy imaginations.

 

We don’t really want to think about all the inconsistencies,

And most certainly not about the baffling mysteries,

Of all his mind blowing conflicting identities,

Because we like to believe we understand all the intracies.

 

We reduce him to a reflection of human rationality,

Never owning up to our finitude or inability,

Refusing to face the obvious inaccessibility,

Because we don’t want to admit the utter impossibility.

 

We feel better if we believe our doubts and uncertainty,

Are just a stop on the way to spiritual maturity,

We like to babble on and on assuredly,

About comprehending atonement and heavenly eternity.

 

Our religion has become a science that places God within a realm of reason,

As if we could predict his coming and going the way we do a season,

We know and our knowledge just keeps increasing,

After all, being right is just so damn pleasing.

 

Now I’m not saying we should abandon our exploration,

Remaining silent doesn’t equal ending the conversation,

Transformative silence is a sacred and subversive vocation,

I mean, think about it – if it’s about God, should it be a 3 point presentation???

We Had Him by Maya Angelou – For Michael

As a young girl I roller skated around the skating rink on Friday nights with the colored lights spinning slowly while “I’ll Be There” played so loud that you couldn’t hear your own voice singing along and later I sat in video bars and stared in awe at the tv screens while the “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” videos were played.  I’m sad at the passing of Michael Jackson – sad that his life ended so suddenly and because it seems as if it ended before it was finished.  I loved the poem that Maya Angelou wrote in his honor that was read at the Staples memorial and so I wanted to share it here.

 

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 mj star

 

 

 

 

We Had Him by Maya Angelou

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing

Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace

Sing our songs among the stars and and walk our dances across the face of the moon

In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing

No clocks can tell our time and noo oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone

Piercingly alone

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him

He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance

Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did not more than that

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style

We had him

Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was our’s and we were his

We had him

Beautiful, delighting our eyes

His raked his hat aslant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing

He gave us all he had been given

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson

But we do know we had him

And we are the world.

It was almost enough to make me stop believing.

In 44 communities across the U.S., teenagers are competing for a spot on their regional teams in order to compete in Washington DC at the National Slam Poetry championship called Brave New Voices. Russell Simmons’ Brave New Voices is a new seven-part HBO series documenting the stories of six competing teams.

Last night I saw some of the HBO special “Brave New Voices” and I was inspired to give slam poetry a try.

Slam poetry is typically intended to be heard instead of read so I have recorded an audio version of my poem in addition to including the written version.

It was almost enough to make me stop believing

Defacto segregations

Emotional manipulations

Personal salvations

ALL the proclamations

I had taken the bait

Walked through the narrow gate

Learned what to hate

Was certain of my eternal fate

I could spew the roman road, so proud so bold, part of the fold, believed what I was told

 I’m in – you’re out – no doubt what I’m talking about

I know – I’m right – I’m the one walking in the light

You lose – I win – come on I’ll point out your sin

Prostituting every opportunity

Wanting to be the supermajority

Working to oppress homosexuality

Don’t forget about being offended by profanity

Let’s hang out in our Christian bubble

Let’s try to stay out of trouble

Don’t wander away from the holy huddle

Forget about conversation – debate for domination – practice your presentation – and talk about eternal damnation

Pick a verse to justify being chauvinistic,

Deny it when they say you are legalistic,

Preach a gospel that is individualistic,

Forget that it seems a little imperialistic.

Don’t question the authority, know what’s a priority, don’t worry about the minority, that’s our expository

The Christianization – the dehumanization.

The demonstration – the incorporation.

Made me start to question

What about the brotherly love – the justice that was spoken of –

the one we were in awe of – the mercy they talked of

Didn’t they get the memoranda that we were supposed to love with no agenda

Didn’t they notice the lack of transformation – the absence of civil conversation

Weren’t we supposed to be known by our fruits instead of our refutes

Weren’t we supposed to make the world a better place full of love and hope and grace

Where was the creativity – the spirit of generosity – the chance for serendipity –

Thank God I broke free

Cause it was almost enough to make me stop believing.